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Publication numberUS3601281 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateAug 24, 1971
Filing dateFeb 18, 1969
Priority dateFeb 18, 1969
Publication numberUS 3601281 A, US 3601281A, US-A-3601281, US3601281 A, US3601281A
InventorsSchlaf Stanley O
Original AssigneeSchlaf Stanley O
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Vending machine with screw conveyor-type cellular magazine
US 3601281 A
Abstract  available in
Images(4)
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

I United States Patent 11 m ni i [72] Inventor Stanley 0. Schlaf 3,335,907 8/1967 Holstein 221/75 X Rte. 1 Box 233, Winfield, Mo. 63389 3,355,064 11/1967 Schlaf 221/75 X [2]] 800181 Primary Examiner-Samuel F. Coleman [22] Flled 1969 Attorney-Gravely Lieder & Woodruff Patented Aug. 24, 1971 [54] VENDING MACHINE WITH SCREW CONVEYOR- l 4 TYPE CELLULAR MAGAZINE ABS'lRAC'l: A vending machine having dispensing modules 18 Claims, 11 Drawing Figs provided with upper and lower shelves. Each upper shelf s enended by the convolutions of a helical dispensing spindle. [52] U.S.Cl 221/75, Items rest on both h l j t di t the cohvohniohs f 198/34 221/155 the spindle, and, as the spindle revolves, items are discharged [51] Int. Cl G07f 1l/00 alternately from the ends f the upper and lower shelyes with Field of Search 221/75, each f rotation'for the spindle The Spindle is connected 198/34 A with a drive unit through a drive rod which extends beneath the upper shelf and merges into the last convolution at the References c'ted discharge end of the spindle. With slight modifications die UNITED STATES PATENTS dispensing module can be adapted to fit existing vending 2,918,195 12/1959 Frerk 221/75 machines.

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INVENTOR STANLEY Q Sc HLAF AT TOR N EYS VENDING MACHINE WITH SCREW CONVEYOR-TYPE CELLULAR MAGAZINE I BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates in general to vending machines, and more particularly to vending machines in which items are dispensed by helical spindles.

I-Ieretofore helical dispensing spindles have been employed in vending machines to incrementally advance and individually dispense candy bars and other relatively firm items. Normally in such applications the rotatable helix is mounted such that a portion of the helix projects above a shelf and the candy bars or other items rest on the shelf between the convolutions of the helical spindle. Accordingly, with each full revolution of the spindle a candy bar or other item is advanced beyond the leading convolution and dispensed to the customer. The helical spindles, however, consume considerable space within the machine, making the vending machines quite large in comparison to their storage capabilities. Moreover, the spindles are driven from their trailing ends, and this causes them to axially compress such that the candy bars on occasions become lodged between adjacent convolutions.

' One of the principal objects of the present invention is to provide a vending machine having a helical spindle which operates on a double row of items and thereby makes efficient use of the space occupied by the spindle. Another object is to provide a vending machine which can be easily loaded. An additional object is to provide a vending machine in which the spindle is not axially compressed as the items are advanced so as to prevent the items from becoming lodged between adjacent convolutions. A further object is to provide a vending module which has the aforementioned advantages and can be installed on existing vending machines. Still another object is to provide a vending machine which dispenses items on a firstin, first-out basis. These and other objects and advantages will become apparent hereinafter.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention is embodied in a vending machine having a helical spindle which advances and dispenses items carried in two rows between the convolutions of the spindle. The invention also consists in the parts and in the arrangements and combinations of parts hereinafter described and claimed.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS In the accompanying drawings which form part of the specification and wherein like numerals and letters refer to like parts wherever they occur:

FIG. I is an elevational view of a vending machine constructed in accordance with and embodying the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a sectional view taken along line 22 of FIG. 1 and showing one of the dispensing modules and its drive unit in plan;

FIG. 3 is a sectional view taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 2',

FIG. 4 is an end elevational view of one of the dispensing modules;

FIGS. 5 and 6 are sectional views taken along lines 55 and 66, respectively, of FIG. 2;

FIG. 7 is a fragmentary sectional view taken along line 7-7 of FIG. 5;

FIG. 8 is an end view, partially broken away, of one of the drive units forming part of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a sectional view of a modified dispensing module and its drive unit;

FIG. 10 is a sectional view taken along line 10l0 in FIG. 9; and

FIG. 11 is a sectional view of another modified dispensing module.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring now to the drawings, 2 designates a vending machine having affront wall 4provided with a transparent panel 6 through'which a plurality of dispensing modules 8 can be observed. Internally the' vending machine 2 is provided with an upstanding support panel 10 which faces the front wall 4 and carries the dispensing modules 8. Each dispensing module 8 is operated by a drive unit 12 (FIGS. 3,6 and 8) located on the opposite side of the support panel 10, and-each drive unit 12 in turn is activated by a separate selector button 14 (FIG. 1) on the front door 4' after the correct amount of coin has been inserted into a coin slot 16 located adjacent to the buttons 14. The front wall .4 also has a dispensing chute 18 located beneath the modules 8.

Each drive unit 12 includes an electric motor 20 mounted on a gear casing 22 and having its rotor shaft connected to a gear train within the casing 22. The gear train terminates at a drive shaft 24' (FIG. 6) journaled in an externally threaded sleeve 26 on the casing 22. The sleeve 26 extends through the support panel 10, and beyond the panel 10 a nut 28 is threaded over the sleeve 26 for securing the drive unit 12 to the support panel 10. At its forward end the drive shaft 24 is provided with a forwardly opening socket 30 having an offcenter portion 32 which forms a stepped shoulder therein. The opposite end of the drive shaft 24 projects beyond the rear face of the gear casing 22 where it is provided with a cam 34 (FIG. 8) having twin lobes spaced I80 apart. The lobes of the cam 34 shift a spring-loaded follower 36 (FIG. 3) which is pivotally mounted on the casing 22 and operates a switching device 38 (FIG. 3) located in the circuit to the motor-22.'The switching device 38 is also actuated by a plunger 40 slidably mounted in a guide tube 42 which projects through the support panel 10, the forward end, of the plunger 40 being exposed beyond the end of the tube 42. The circuit to the motor 20 further includes one of the selector buttons 14, a vend relay havingcredit contacts in series with the button 14, and carry over contacts which are actually part of the switching device 38. When the selector button 14 associated with switching device 38 is depressed the motor 20 will be energized and will rotate the drive shaft 24 at a greatly reduced speed. One of the lobes on the cam 34 at the end of the drive shaft 24 will lift the follower 36, and the follower 36 in turn will close the carry over contacts on the switching device 38. When this occurs the credit contacts in the vend relay break. Upon the return of the follower 36 to its normal position at the end of the of rotation, the switching device 38 will break the circuit and stop the motor 20. When the button 14 is again depressed, the other lobe on the cam 34 will repeat the sequence. If the plunger 40 is depressed, the drive motor 20 will not operate. The foregoing circuitry and construction of the drive unit 12 are described more fully in US Pat. Nos. 3,294,281 and 3,355,064.

Each dispensing module 8 includes a housing 50 having a backwall 52, a lower wall or shelf 54 and a sidewall 56, all rigidly attached to one another at right angles (FIGS. 24). The opposite side of the housing 50 is open, but the lower wall 54 is turned upwardly at that side in the formation of a side lip 60, which prevents objects from sliding off of the lower wall 54' and out of the open side. The backwall 52 is provided with rearwardly turned flanges 62 along all of its margins. The upper flange 62 of the backwall 52 underlies a forwardly extending flange 63 on the upper end of an apertured mounting plate 64 which is held against the support panel 10 by the nut 28 and a pair of self-tapping screws 65 threaded into the panel 10 (FIGS. 3 and 6). The lower flange 62 on the backwall 52, on the other hand, overlies another forwardly extending flange 66 at the lower margin of the mounting plate 64.

. The backwall 52, and along with it the entire housing 50, are connected with the mounting plate 64 by means of a U- shaped locking bar 67 (FIG. 5) contained entirely within the recess formed in the backwall 52 by the rearwardly turned flanges 62. The locking bar 67 includes a pair of legs 68 which extend upwardly along those flanges 62 at the side of the wall 52 and register at their upper ends with apertures 69 formed in the upper flange 63 on the mounting plate 64 when the flanges 62 abut against the forward face of the support panel 10. The locking bar 67 is biased upwardly by a spring 70 extending between its bight portion and the wall 52. Consequently, the ends of the legs 68 normally project through the apertures 69 and secure the housing 50 to the mounting plate 64.

The housing 50 contains an upper shelf 71 which extends longitudinally through it in upwardly spaced parallel relation to the lower wall 54. The shelf 71 is cantilevered from the backwall 52 by means of a mounting flange 72 (FIG. 6) formed integral with it and a reinforcing angle 73 bolted to its upper face as well as to the forward face of the backwall 52. At its forward margin the shelf 71 is cut away in the formation ofa thumb slot 75 (FIG. 2) which provides access to an underlying release rod 76 which in turn extends the length of the shelf 70 adjacent to one of the flanges 74. The forward end of the rod 76 is journaled in a cross strut 77 (FIG. 3) secured to the underside of the shelf 71 and immediately forwardly of the cross strut 77 the rod 76 turns inwardly and traverses the thumb slot 75. The rear end of the rod 76 passes through and is journaled in the mounting flange 72 of the shelf 71 as well as in the backwall 52, and beyond the rear face of the backwall 52 it turns downwardly and inwardly in the formation of an actuating arm 78 (FIG. which at its lower end engages the bight portion of the U-shaped locking bar 67. Thus, when the portion of the release rod 76 which is presented across the thumb slot 75 is depressed, the rod 76 will rotate and its actuating arm 78 will swing downwardly toward the adjacent side flange 62 on the backwall 52 and force the U-shaped locking bar 67 downwardly also. This causes the legs 68 to withdraw from the apertures 69 in the upper flange 63 of the mounting plate 64. With the upper ends of the legs 68 withdrawn from the apertures 69, the dispensing module 8 may be pulled directly outwardly from the support panel 10.

The housing 50 further contains a helical dispensing spindle 79, the convolutions of which pass in close proximity to the lower shelf or wall 54 and encircle the upper shelf71. The end convolution at the discharge end of the spindle 79, that is at the end opposite the backwall 52, merges into a radially extending segment 80 which in turn merges into an axially extending drive rod 81 located beneath the upper shelf 71. Immediately to the rear of the radial segment 80, the drive rod 81 is journaled in a sleeve bearing 82 set into a tab 83 which is attached to the shelf 71 and projects downwardly from the forward margin thereof. The trailing end of the drive rod 81 is journaled in a sleeve bearing 74 in the backwall 52, and beyond the bearing 84 the rod 81 is provided with an enlarged drive head 85 (FIG. 6) which is sized for insertion into the socket 30 on the drive shaft 24 of the drive unit 12. The drive head 85 terminates at an axially extending tang 86 which extends into the offcenter portion 32 of the socket 30 so as to prevent relative rotation between the drive rod 81 and drive shaft 24. Portions of both the leading margins of the shelf 71 and the lower wall 54 are presented at equal but opposite angles with respect to the plane of the backwall 52, and that angle approximates the helix angle of the spindle 76. In other words, a portion of the leading margin of the shelf 71 follows the angular path of the upper portions of the convolutions on the spindle 76, whereas the leading margin of the lower wall 54 follows the angular path of the lower portions of the convolutions.

Finally, the module 8 is provided with a soldout mechanism 87 for depressing the plunger 40 which actuates the switching device 38 when the module 8 is devoid of vendable items. The soldout mechanism 87 includes a flat sensing arm 88 which extends longitudinally along the upper surface of the shelf7l all the way to its forward edge. At its rear end the sensing arm 88 is fitted with a bifurcated bracket89 (FIGS. 2 and 6), the furcations of which project through slots 90 formed'in the vcrti cal flange of the reinforcing angle 73 as well as in the backwall 52. The lower margins of the slots 90 are located slightly above the upper surface on the horizontal flange of the reinforcing angle 72 so that bracket 89 is actually pivoted on the reinforcing angle 72. One of the furcations is connected with a spring 91 (FIG. 5) which biases it downwardly and the forward end of the sensing arm 88 upwardly. The other furcation turns upwardly at its rear end in the formation of a pressure finger 92 (FIGS. 3 and 5) which bears against a transfer link 93 pivoted about a pin 94 set into the upper rearwardly turned flange 62 on the backwall 52. At its free end the transfer link 93 is provided with a downwardly extending tab 95, the rearwardly presented face of which bears against the circular end face of the plunger 40 in the tube 42. When the sensing arm 88 is unrestrained, the force exerted by the spring 91 on the furcation of the bracket 89 is sufflcient to lift or pivot the forward end of the sensing arm 88 off of the upper surface of the shelf 71. When the sensing arm 88 is raised, the pressure finger 92 forces the transfer link 93 away from the backwall 52, causing its tab to hold the plunger 40 inwardly. The plunger 40, as previously noted, sets the switching device 38 so that the motor 20 will not operate.

OPERATION To load the vending machine 2, each module is grasped with the fingers of one hand extending across the bottom of the lower wall 54 adjacent to the angled forward margin thereof and the thumb of that same hand in the thumb slot 75'against the portion of the release rod 76 which projects across that slot 75. When that portion of the release rod 76 is depressed, the actuating arm 78 at the opposite end of the rod 76 forces the U-shaped locking bar 67 downwardly against the bias of the spring 70, causing the upper ends of the legs 68 to withdraw from the apertures 69 in the upper flange 63 of the mounting plate 64. This frees the entire module 8 so that it can be drawn directly outwardly from the support panel 10. As the module 8 is pulled away from the support panel 10, the upper and lower rearwardly extending flanges 62 on the backwall 52 slide across the forwardly extending flanges 63 and 66, respectively, on the mounting plate 64, while the drive head 85 on the spindle 79 withdraws from the socket 30 in the drive shaft 24. Once free of the mounting plate 64, the module 8 may be removed to a suitable supporting surface, whereupon candy bars or other similarly shaped items 96 are inserted between the convolutions of the spindle 79, both on the upper shelf 71 and on the lower shelf 54. In the case of the former, the items 96 may be either dropped downwardly between the convolutions of the spindle 79 or passed laterally across the upper shelf 71 between them, whereas in the case of the latter the items 96 must be passed laterally into the open side of the housing 50 and across the lower shelf 54 between the convolutions. A single item 96 on the forward end of the upper shelf 71 is enough to maintain the sensing arm 88 against the shelf 71, and consequently, the plunger 40 remains extended and does not break the circuit to the motor 20. Each dispensing module 8 should be loaded with like items 96 and when it is completely loaded, the module 8 is returned to the support panel 10, care being exercised to effect alignment of the drive head 85 with the socket 30 and the tang 86 with the offcenter portion 31 formed in the socket 30. The tang 86 will be in proper alignment when the radial segment of the spindle 79 projects upwardly, or in other words, is in the 12 o'clock position. With the portion of the actuating rod traversing the thumb slot 75 depressed, the upper and lower flanges 62 on the backwall 52 are passed between the forwardly extending flanges 62 and 66 on the mounting plate 66 until the retracted ends of the legs 68 on the locking bar 67 register with the apertures 69 in the upper flange 63. At that time the release rod 76 is released and the legs 68 project into the apertures 69, securing the module 8 to the panel 10.

In operation the-consumer inserts the proper amount of coin in t l ccoin slot 16 and then presses the selector button 14 corresponding to the dispensing module 8 which stores the particular item 96 he is interested in purchasing. That selector button 14 will close a circuit to the motor 20 in the drive unit 12 associated with that dispensing module 8. Once actuated the motor 20 will continue to revolve, turning the drive shaft 24 at the end of the gear train in the gear casing 22. One of the lobes on the cam 34 at the end of the drive shaft 24 will lift the spring-loaded follower 36 upwardly and then allow its spring to return it to its normal position as the drive shaft 24 approaches 180 of rotation. When the drive shaft reaches 180 of rotation, the follower 36 will actuate the switching device 38 causing it to interrupt the circuit to the motor 20, and the motor 20 will of course cease to turn.

Meanwhile, the drive spindle 79 will have rotated through- 1 80 since it is connected directly to the drive shaft 24 through the drive rod 81, and the final half of the leading convolution, that is the 180 of convolution trailing the radial segment 80, will drive the end item 96 across the angled leading margin on either the shelf 54 or 71 and out of the open front end of the dispensing module 8. The item 96 will fall downwardly into the dispensing chute 18 where it can be retrieved by the customer. The remaining items 96 in the dispensing module 8 are dispensed in a similar manner with the items 96 being dispensed alternately from the upper shelf 71 and the lower shelf 54.

The sidewall 56 is presented such that the items 96 on the upper shelf 71 through frictional engagement with the spindle 79 are forced against it. Accordingly, the wall 56 prevents the items 96 from shifting laterally as the spindle 76 revolves and thereby keeps the items 96 on the upper shelf 71 in engagement with the convolutions of the spindle 79. The side lip 60 serves the same purpose for items 96 on the lower shelf 54. Since the spindle 79 incrementally advances all the items 96 on the shelves 54 and 71 in unison with each rotation of the drive shaft 24, no rearranging of the items 96 is necessary when loading a partially dispensed module 8 to effect further dispensing on a first-in, first-out basis. On the contrary, when loading a partially dispensed spindle 79, the new items 96 are merely inserted into the spaces between the convolutions at the rear of the module 8, and those newly inserted items 96 will be dispensed only after the items 96 remaining in the module 8 at the time of the subsequent loading have been dispensed. Inasmuch as the convoluted portion of the dispensing spindle 79 is driven from its leading or discharge end through the drive rod 81, the leading convolution will always be presented in the same predetermined spacing and angle with respect to the ends of the shelves 54 and 71 and accordingly will not be affected by compressive or torsional forces on the convoluted portion. Moreover, the spindle 79 will tend to pull the items 96 along the shelves 54 and 71 and this eliminates the possibility of the spindle compressing and causing the items 88 to lodge between adjacent convolutions as is true ofdispcnsing spindles driven from the opposite end.

After the final item passes across the leading margin of the upper wall 71, the spring 91 will raise the sensing arm 88 and cause the pressure finger 92 to move the transfer link 93 rearwardly. The link 93, in turn, acting through its tab 95, will depress the plunger 40 within the tube 42 and thereby set the switching device 38 so the select circuit is broken at the switching device 38 and the customers credit may be used for operating another module 8 through a different selector button 14.

ALTERNATIVE EMBODIMENTS Referring now to FIGS. 9 and 10, it is possible to provide a modified dispensing module 100 for converting existing spindle-type vending machines 102 from the convoluted spindle delivery of bagged items to the delivery of candy bars and similar elongated items 96 which are relatively firm. Those existing machines 102 are similar to the machines disclosed in US. Pat. No. 3,355,064 and like the machine 2, each includes a support panel 104 and drive units 106 on the support panel 104. Each drive unit 106 has a threaded sleeve 108 which projects throughthe panel 104, beyond which it is fitted with a nut 110 which threads toward thefront face of the panel 104 and secures the drive unit 106 to it. A plunger 112 also projects through the panel 104 and operates a switching device in the drive unit 106. The threaded sleeve 108 of each drive unit 106 has a drive shaft 114 journaled in it, and thedrive shaft 114 is provided with a socket 116 which has an offcenter end portion 118. The socket 116 normally receives the drive head of a forwardly projecting spindle adapted to carry bags having apertured tabs. Like the drive shaft 24, the drive shaft 114 has a cam which operates the switching device through a follower. The cam, however, has only one lobe, and therefore the drive shaft 114 rotates through a full revolution before stopping.

The dispensing module is very similar to the module 8 and includes a housing 120 having a lower wall or shelf 122 and a rear wall 124 provided with rearwardly projecting flanges 126. The housing 120 contains an upper shelf 128 and a helical dispensing spindle 130, the convoluted portion of which encircles the upper shelf 128 and passes in close proximity to the lower shelf 122. The dispensing spindle 130 also includes a drive rod 132 fitted with a hub 134 which is journaled in the backwall 124. The hub 134 projects into the recess formed by the flanges 126, where it integrally merges into a spur gear 136 which meshes with a pinion gear 138 on a drive head 144 which projects into the socket 116 in the drive shaft 114. The drive head 144 terminates at a tang 146 which fits into the offcenter portion-118 of the socket 116. The pinion gear 138 has half the number of teeth as the spur gear 136 and consequently the latter makes half as many revolutions as the former. The recess formed in the rear wall 124 by its rearwardly turned flanges 126 contains a locking bar 148 which is shifted by a release arm 149 extending along the underside of the upper shelf 128.

The dispensing module 100 is further provided with a soldout mechanism 150 for depressing the plunger 112 and that soldout mechanism 150 is similar to the soldout mechanism 87 on the dispensing module 8.

In order to connect the dispensing module 100 to the existing vending machine 102 the nut 110 is removed. from the threaded sleeve 108 and an apertured adapter plate 151 similar to the mounting plate 68 is fitted over the outwardly projecting portions of both the sleeve 108 and the plunger tube 112. Thereupon the nut 110 is again threaded over the sleeve 108 and against the forward surface of the plate 150, and self-tapping screws 152 are passed through it and into the panel 104, thereby firmly securing both the plate 150 and the drive unit 106 to the support panel 104. The plate 150 along its top edge is turned forwardly in the formation of an upper flange 153 having apertures which align with the legs on the locking bar 148. Along its lower margin the plate 150 is provided with another flange 154 which abuts the bottom rearwardly turned flange 126 and thereby supports the backwall 124. The dispensing module 100 is connected with the plate 150 through its locking bar 148 in the same manner that the module 8 is connected to the mounting plate 64 through the locking bar 67.

The existing vending machine 102 equipped with the modified dispensing module 100 is loaded with items 88 and operates in the same manner as the vending machine 2. By reason of the meshing gears 136 and 138 the full revolution of the drive shaft 114 on the drive unit 106 during each dispensing cycle is translated into one-half revolution of the dispensing spindle 130. Thus, the dispensing module 100 also dispenses the items 88 individually and alternately from the upper and lower shelves 122 and 128.

Turning now to FIG. 11, it is possible to provide a dispensing module which is very similar to the modules 8 and 100, only it has a soldout mechanism 162 which senses the absence of items 96 in the lower row instead of the upper row. More specifically, the module 160 includes a housing 163 having a lower wall 164, a backwall 166, and an upper shelf 168 cantilevered from the backwall 166 and having a pair of side flanges 170. Below the lower ends of the flanges 170 a tube 172 forming part of a drive unit 174 projects through the backwall 166, and that tube 172 contains a plunger 176 which operates a switching device in the drive unit 174. The housing 163 also contains a helical dispensing spindle 178 which is similar to the spindle 79 and is rotated by the drive unit 174.

The soldout mechanism 162 includes a pin 178 which extends between the side flanges 170 and carries a sensing arm 182 which extends forwardly beneath the upper shelf 168 within the convolutions of the dispensing spindle 178. At its rear end, that is at the pin 180, the sensing arm 182 is provided with a pressure finger 184 which at its lower end aligns with the end of the plunger 176 located in the tube 172. When the sensing arm 182 is raised, as would be the case if items 96 were on the lower wall 166, the pressure finger 184 remains away from the plunger 176. However, when the last item 96 is driven off of the lower wall 164 by the spindle 178, the sensing arm 182 will fall downwardly and swing the lower end of the pressure finger 184 against the plunger 176, forcing it into the tube 172. This, of course, sets the switching device within the drive unit 174 such that the unit 174 will no longer drive the spindle 178 and the customers coin will be applied as a credit to some other dispensing module 160.

This invention is intended to cover all changes and modifications of the example of the invention herein chosen for purposes of the disclosure which do not constitute departures from the spirit and scope of the invention.

What is claimed is:

1. A vending machine comprising a support member; a connecting element projecting outwardly from the support member; item supporting means including a rear wall, a first shelf projecting outwardly from the rear wall for supporting a row of items, and a second shelf also projecting outwardly from the rear wall beneath the first shelf for supporting another row of items; a shiftable locking member carried by the rear wall, the locking member being shiftable from a position wherein it will engage the connecting element and secure the rear wall to the support member to another position wherein it will be disengaged from the connecting element and will allow the rear wall to be detached and withdrawn from the support member; a helical spindle including convolutions which encircle the first shelf and pass adjacent to the second shelf; drive means mounted behind the rear wall; and a drive rod extending through the rear wall for connecting the convolutions to the drive means, the drive rod being connected with the drive means beyond the rear wall when the locking means is engaged with the connecting element and being disconnected from the drive means when the rear wall is *etach ed from the support member, the items in each row of items being positioned on the shelves and between the convolutions of the spindle so that as the spindle rotates the items will be dispensed.

2. A vending machine according to claim 1, and further characterized by release means for shifting the locking member and operable from the dispensing end ofthe item supporting means.

3. A vending machine according to claim 2, wherein one of the shelves at its dispensing end is provided with a thumb slot, and wherein a release rod is journaled adjacent to and extends along that shelf, the rod extending across the thumb slot at its one end and shifting the locking member at its opposite end, whereby the locking member is operable from the dispensing end of the shelves.

4. A vending mechanism comprising upper and lower shelves mounted in fixed and determined relation with respect to each other for supporting a plurality of items arranged in rows thereon, each shelf having a discharge end across which the items leave the shelf, and a helical spindle having convolutions which encircle the upper shelf and extend toward the lower shelf, the convolutions passing between and separating items on each shelf so that as the spindle rotates the items will be advanced along the shelves toward the discharge ends thereof and will eventually leave the shelves at the discharge ends, the spindle further including a drive rod which extends along the upper shelf and connects with the convolution located closest to the discharge ends of the shelves but is detached from the remaining convolutions whereby the convolutions will rotate with the drive rod.

5. A vending machine according to claim 4, wherein the drive rod near its connection to the endmost convolution is journaled in the upper shelf.

6. A vending machine according to claim 5, wherein the drive rod extends along the underside of the upper shelf.

7. A vending machine according to claim 5, and further characterized by guide means along at least one side of each shelf to prevent the convolutions from pushing the items laterally off of the shelf as the spindle revolves.

8. A vending machine according to claim 7, and further characterized by a rear member to which the upper and lower shelves are attached at their ends located remote from their discharge ends, the shelves being supported by and projecting outwardly from the rear member.

9. A vending machine according to claim 8, wherein the drive rod extends through the rear member and is journaled in the upper shelf remote from the rear member.

10. A vending machine according to claim 9, and further characterized by a support member to which the rear member is affixed, whereby the rear member is supported by the support member, and drive means mounted on the support member and engaged with the drive rod for rotating the spindle.

11. A vending machine according to claim 10, wherein the drive means includes a drive shaft provided with a socket and the drive rod is connectable with the drive shaft through a drive head which fits nonrotatively into the socket.

12. A vending machine according to claim 11, wherein the drive rod is connected to the drive head through meshing gears of predetermined ratio.

13. A vending machine according to claim 10, and further characterized by sensing means for sensing the presence of items on at least one of the shelves, the sensing means being connected with the drive means for preventing the drive means from being energized in the absence of items on the shelf over which the sensing means maintains surveillance.

14. A vending machine according to claim 13, wherein the sensing means includes a sensing arm extending along the upper surface of the upper shelf within the convolutions of the spindle, the sensing arm being spring biased upwardly but being normally held against the upper surface of the shelf by items on the upper shelf.

15. A vending machine according to claim 13, wherein the sensing means includes a sensing arm extending above the lower shelf within the convolutions of the dispensing spindle, and wherein the sensing arm is normally maintained in a raised position by items on the lower shelf.

16. A vending machine according to claim 10, wherein the rear member is detachable from the support member; and wherein the drive rod is disengaged from the drive means when the rear member is detached from the support member.

17. A vending mechanism comprising upper and lower shelves for supporting a plurality ol items arranged in rows thereon, means mounting the shelves in fixed and determined relation relative to each other, dispensing spindle means having a series of convolutions which pass between and separate the items on both the upper and lower shelves, the upper shelf being disposed within and completely encircled by the convolutions and the lower shelf being substantially located below and outside of the convolutions, the lower shelf further being accessible from at least one of its sides so that the items may be inserted laterally onto it to supported positions between the convolutions of the spindle, both shelves having discharge ends located at one end of the convoluted portion of the spindle so that the items can pass along the shelves and be discharged from the ends thereof, and means for rotating the spindle in the direction which causes the items to be advanced toward the discharge ends of the shelves, whereby the items will leave the discharge ends of the upper and lower shelves al- I ternately as the spindle rotates.

18. A vending mechanism according to claim l7, wherein

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3765566 *Oct 14, 1971Oct 16, 1973Dasher C KVending machine product distributor
US3773217 *Apr 25, 1972Nov 20, 1973Schlaf SDispensing machine for bagged products
US3814282 *Jul 27, 1972Jun 4, 1974PolyvendBall wedge vending machine modules
US3828971 *Jun 27, 1973Aug 13, 1974Vendo CoDivided shelf structure for helix type product dispensing machines
US3840147 *Jul 5, 1973Oct 8, 1974Vendo CoShelf apparatus for helix type product dispensing machines
US3861561 *Apr 30, 1973Jan 21, 1975Fawn Eng CorpVending machine raised helix discharge unit
US3929255 *Jan 31, 1974Dec 30, 1975Fawn Eng CorpVending machine divided helix apparatus
US3935966 *Mar 22, 1974Feb 3, 1976Rowe International, Inc.Gun and mint delivery unit for helical feed merchandising machine
US3989163 *Apr 28, 1975Nov 2, 1976Fawn Engineering Co.Vending apparatus with helical discharge member
US3993215 *Sep 30, 1974Nov 23, 1976Umc Industries, Inc.Spiral vendor
US3999682 *Jan 30, 1975Dec 28, 1976Fawn Engineering CorporationFiller assembly for helical coil vending machines
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Classifications
U.S. Classification221/75, 198/570, 198/722, 221/155
International ClassificationG07F11/60, G07F11/24, G07F11/46, G07F11/16
Cooperative ClassificationG07F11/60, G07F11/24
European ClassificationG07F11/24, G07F11/60